There is a big debate going on about whether cities should get into the business of providing broadband to its citizens, especially if incumbents don’t act always in their (citizens’) best interests. More than a dozen states have come-up with bills to outlaw municipal and city owned broadband. This battle is not new, says Michael Geist in his excellent editorial in The Star.
At the turn of the 20th century, Adam Beck, a provincial cabinet minister from London, Ontario, introduced a bill that created the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario and fought corporate interests who wanted to keep electricity in private hands. Geist points out that the same battle is being fought when it comes to broadband. In Canada, however munis and incumbents are both taking a more enlightened approach to a common goal – broadband for everyone.
These initiatives, which could play a pivotal role in providing e-government services, distance education, and tele-health, will not come without a fight. As Adam Beck learned 100 years ago, providing affordable, publicly supported services to the broader community often generates an electrifying shock to the system.